The Myth of China's Super Schools China had all the elements necessary for an industrial revolution at least four hundred years before Great Britain, but keju diverted scholars, geniuses, and thinkers away from the study or exploration of modern science. The examination system, Zhao holds, was designed to reward obedience, conformity, compliance, respect for order, and homogeneous thinking; for this reason, it purposefully supported Confucian orthodoxy and imperial order. It was an efficient means of authoritarian social control. Everyone wanted to succeed on the highly competitive exams, but few did. Success on the keju enforced orthodoxy, not innovation or dissent. As Zhao writes, emperors came and went, but China had “no Renaissance, no Enlightenment, no Industrial Revolution.” [more inside]
How Reader's Digest Became a Chinese Stooge Larkin was delighted when Reader's Digest said it would take her work for one of its anthologies of condensed novels. Thirst would reach a global audience and – who knows? – take off. Reader's Digest promised "to ensure that neither the purpose nor the opinion of the author is distorted or misrepresented", and all seemed well. [more inside]
Politico: "The U.S. government on Friday approved Shuanghui International Holding’s bid to buy iconic U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods in what would be the biggest Chinese takeover of a U.S. company to date." [more inside]
To a Chinese Scrap-Metal Hunter, America's Trash Is Treasure: Johnson Zeng is a Chinese trader who travels across the U.S. in search of scrap metal. By his estimate, there are at least 100 others like him driving from scrap yard to scrap yard, right now, in search of what Americans won’t or can’t be bothered to recycle. His favorite product: wires, cables, and other kinds of copper. His purchases, millions of pounds of metal worth millions of dollars, will eventually be shipped to China. [more inside]
In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment. There are location challenges, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons. [more inside]
"Almost a decade since the end of the hit American TV series Friends, the show — and, in particular, the fictitious Central Perk cafe, where much of the action took place — is enjoying an afterlife in China's capital, Beijing. Here, the show that chronicled the exploits of New York City pals Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey is almost seen as a lifestyle guide."
"Honey laundering is a complex exercise that involves several players in the honey chain from apiary to wholesaler to retailer. In the case against ALW, evidence was presented to show the use of fake country-of-origin documents for shipments, replacement of labels on Chinese containers with fraudulent ones, switching of honey containers in a third country, and even the blending of Chinese honey with glucose syrup or honey from another country."
WIRED has been running a fascinating series: Olympic Physics: Can Runners Benefit From Drafting?, Scoring the Decathlon, New [Swimming] Platform Is No Chip Off The Old Block [more inside]
The United States sees the world as Vietnam does: threatened by growing Chinese power. [more inside]
We're All State Capitalists Now 'No, according to some commentators, the contest between the two Asian superpowers is also fundamentally a contest between economic models: market capitalism vs. state capitalism.' [more inside]
In March last year, the unmanned X-37B US military spaceplane launched from Cape Canaveral on mission USA-226, to "demonstrate various experiments", sensors and technology. Its original 270 day mission was extended in November "as circumstances allow" for "additional experimentation opportunities", but a dedicated group of optical tracking specialists in the US and Europe believe that the X-37B is in fact spying on the Chinese space station Tiangong-1. [more inside]
Anticipating a season long lockout, several NBA players signed contracts with teams in the Chinese Basketball Association. Now that a labor deal has been reached, leaving for the NBA won't be easy.
US President Barack Obama is in Australia today. The main policy announcement is a new, permanent US Marine Corps presence on Australian soil. This is interpreted unambiguously as a 'containment strategy' for China and other Asian nations, with Australia playing the loyal deputy Sheriff. Most Australians don't think we should be forced to choose.
Carbon dioxide emissions increased by the largest amount on record in 2010, exceeding the worst case scenario outlined by the IPCC four years ago.
Which countries match the GDP and population of ● Brazil's States? ● China's Provinces? ● India's States and Territories? [more inside]
According to a new study from the UK's national science academy, the Royal Society, China is on course to outstrip US scientific output as earlier as two years from now. [SLBBC]
Electronics companies all over the world are increasingly reliant on certain rare metals, most of which are mined in China, which controls 97 per cent of the global supply. The Chinese government has promised to slash export quotas to ensure future sustainability of the world's supply of rare metals. China will drop its quota by 35 per cent in the first half of this year as compared with the same time last year. But despite its escalating consumption of rare metals and the need for future sustainability, the West's electronics industry is mistrustful of China's motives and claims that the move has more to do with the mainland's desire to dominate electronics manufacturing than ensuring the future sustainability of the world's supply of rare metals. ~ Greening conscience or resource checkmate? The rare earth trilogy covers eWaste harvesting, restarting interest in mines and dithering around trade regulations, all in one neat package. [more inside]
How could this happen? A Reporter’s Guide to the USA Pavilion Debacle at Expo 2010. As the World Expo 2010 opens, Adam Minter, journalist blogger at Shanghai Scrap, provides a timely summary of his series of posts that have looked at the scandal and farce behind the building of the US's sub-optimal pavilion.
China is the new Detroit. New car sales in the United States plunged more than 20 percent in 2009 to a 27-year low 10 million vehicles, less than the 12.23 million sold in China during January-November, making the Asian giant the world's largest car market for the first time. That marked a turning point in the global auto industry, which had been led by the Big Three Detroit companies since Ford Motor Co. began mass production in 1913, introducing the world's first conveyor belt system.
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Guardian ran a series of articles looking at the state of high-speed rail travel today. France intends to double its length of track over the next decade, and China is planning a massive rail-building programme, including a high-speed line which will halve the travel time between Beijing and Shanghai to 4 hours. In Germany, domestic air travel is rapidly going extinct, and Spain's network has made day trips between Madrid and Barcelona a possibility. The USA, which has long neglected its rail network, is planning up to 10 high-speed lines. Meanwhile, Britain's only high-speed line goes to France, but there is talk of a 250mph line from London to Birmingham and beyond, possibly by the early 2020s. Meanwhile, the CEO of France's rail operator, SNCF, weighs in on what the UK should do.
China hits back at US criticism on human rights After the US needles China with human rights criticism, China responds with Human Rights Record of United States in 2008. From its preface: "As in previous years, the [United States'] reports are full of accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions, including China, but mention nothing of the widespread human rights abuses on its own territory."
"The Vital Triangle: China, the United States, and the Middle East"- seeking to understand the effects of the China-Middle East relationship on the United States, the U.S. Middle East relationship on China, and the Sino-American relationship on the Middle East. Book excerpts (Chapter 1) (Chapter 3). Interview with Jon Alterman, co-author. Via the very useful SUSRIS.
The Rise of the Rest. Fareed Zakaria's Newsweek article about a "post-American" world.
Shaolin [Wiki] is having a difficult time lately. A combination of the silver screen and the small screen cemented the ancient school in most peoples' minds as a surefire way to kick ass most stylishly. Its introduction in the US has since been fraught with problems and complications, most notably in 1992 when a tour of Shaolin Fighting Monks returned to China minus one Shi Yan-Ming - who has since started the USA Shaolin Temple. Then the Chinese government tried starting their own Shaolin-approved schools. But various attempts haven't gone right either. What is the state of Shaolin now? Everyone's trying to make a buck in this game. You can buy anything from Shaolin Secrets in scroll form to the opportunity to "live the life of a warrior monk". Shaolin cachet is at a premium. Its name fame is such it's even ruining things back home. Immigration scams, ballet classes, Lollapalooza, the RZA? Can it get any worse? Now people are even saying one lone ninja can defeat a whole temples' worth of monks!
The Bush administration is busy preparing for a possible military conflict with China. "The most important strategic decision the United States will make in the next decade is not about Iraq, Iran or North Korea. It is about China. What will America's basic attitude be toward the rise of China? And similarly, the most important strategic decision that Beijing will make in the next decade is: how should it relate to the United States? Depending on whether the answer to these questions is 'cooperation' or 'confrontation', one can imagine two very different 21st centuries." The Bush administration's containment strategy for China may herald the next cold war. [via]
China to invade USA within the decade, using biological weapons to kill "hundreds of millions". On the other hand, China is a wonderful land which has given an immensely rich culture to the global community.
We may have avoided a trade war, but it looks like a space race is on.
Oh that whirlwind affair that October in Shanghai. It's a week old. And I hope and pray this hasn't been posted before. But if you like joke fodder about Bush, these photos may be for you.
Chinese sweatshops working overtime producing American flags. Just so we can show each other how much we value freedom and democracy.
China warns against US hegemony. "Jiang Zemin has called for a new world order to counter the dominance of the United States." Geopolitics route around nations that don't play nice.
Chinese F-8 interceptor flying underneath U.S. Navy EP-3E seconds before the crash. EP-3E banks a hard left. How can you figure out who's to blame when both pilots are being this reckless?
The Chinese pilot ejected, but it presumed dead. The US goes halfsies on the apology thing.
What the Pentagon has lost The American spy plane carried very sophisticted andf important snoopware...did they destroy what they could before landing?
US China relationship risked by brinkmanship, says a new analysis. White House advisers on China policy grow hawkish, but may not have a well-worked out strategy for dealing with China in this new light. Beijing loses patience, and coincidental events may force a crisis. Allies are expressing concern; everyone expects choppy waters through the fall economic summit. And that was written two weeks ago. If they're bad now, how much worse are they today? Is there an even hand on the keel?
Pot criticises kettles for chromatic similitude. Now, on the one hand, it's refreshing that the US State Department acknowledges the human rights abuses of allies such as Israel; but this annual catalogue of the world's foibles smacks just a little of sanctimonious short-sightedness. But I'm torn on this one: are such state-sponsored surveys a useful basis on which to judge the "ethical" basis of foreign policy, or are they propaganda exercises, designed to direct attention away from domestic failures and to paper over the hypocrisies of policy?
Is everyone asleep at the wheel? "The Senate on Tuesday approved a bill to normalize trade with China, marking a turning point in a half-century of stormy relations between the world’s strongest power and its most populous nation. In return, trade relations will no longer hinge on China’s human rights record, a link that has long irritated Beijing." It is a sad day for human rights in China.